Over the last year, my path has crossed virtually with Carolyn's many times, and each one has been a delight. She is friendly and encouraging, and she has a wealth of knowledge that is enviable. Her blog, House full of Bookworms, is a great source for new books, book lists, and realistic tips. It's a treat to have her here today, sharing some of her insights on how to encourage reading even if you don't have a lot of time (or interest) for it yourself.
My brother and I have always gotten along well. And one of the greatest things we've always shared is our love of books.
Beginning in middle school, I can remember my brother and I sharing book recommendations with each other and becoming immersed in the same fictional worlds. Even today, we enjoy sharing new series and authors we have discovered with each other.
I've often thought it was a fluke that my brother and I both turned out to be such lovers of books. My parents didn't read much, other than their Bibles, as we were growing up (although they are both readers now, particularly my mom).
Or maybe, I thought, the reading gene had skipped a generation. My grandmother was an avid reader. Maybe my brother and I inherited our obsession with books from her.
But as I've thought more about this topic, I believe there are some very essential things my mom did that fostered our love of reading.
In the reading community there is a lot of talk about what parents can do to create life-long readers. Some of the most highly touted techniques seem to be reading aloud, letting kids see you read, and filling your home with books.
I grew up with none of these. We had some books, but certainly not a large library of them. Nor did my parent take us to the library often. I never remember seeing my parents reading, nor can I recall being read to (though I know my parents read to me before I could read on my own).
So, for my brother and I to have both become avid readers, different forces had to be in effect.
Here are the three things I think my mom did right to foster our love of reading.
- My mom took us to bookstores and allowed us to pick what was interesting to us--Now, I'm not saying you should give your kids carte blanche at the bookstore. Things have changed, and even in the children's section, there are many books that may not be appropriate for your child or family. And I should point out that my mom generally took us to the Christian bookstore, so I guess she was able to feel comfortable with whatever we might pick out. Taking your kids to the library is wonderful, but owning your own books is something altogether different and special. I still own most of the books I collected throughout my childhood.
- My mom recommended books, but she never took offense that my tastes differed greatly from hers--My mom and I have very different tastes in books. Most of the classics she recommended to me I now adore, like Little House on the Prairie. Some I still loathe after multiple tries (like The Great Gatsby). But, as a kid, I adored fantasy, a genre my mom doesn't particularly care for. But she never criticized my choice of reading material, and she continued to buy me the books I enjoyed while gently recommending others that might broaden my horizons.
- My mom made room for free time and allowed us to be bored--I think this is key. We had activities and things we did, but we were by no means over-scheduled (at least not before high school rolled around). Nor were we given many chores (for good or ill). We had time to play outside, think, dream, and read. We also played Nintendo and watched movies. But we read because we had time.
So, I want to say thank you, Mom. You have more to do with my love of reading than you (or I) may have realized.
House full of Bookworms.